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Violet Cuckoo - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by arian001
Mandai Orchid Garden, Singapore, October 2005
Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus


Photo © by kampang
Jurong Eco Gardens, Singapore, June 2015

16cm (6 in)


  • Glossy violet upperparts and head
  • Blackish tail with white tip, outer feathers barred
  • Bright violet chin to upper breast
  • White belly with broad black, green or violet bars
  • Red eye-ring
  • amethystinus is glossy blue-violet rather than reddish violet


Photo © by SEdwards7
Mae Chan, Chiang Rai, Thailand, September 2018
  • Greenish bronze upperparts
  • Dark brown crown
  • White markings around eye and sometimes on forehead
  • Greenish central tail, rest of tail rufous with greenish bars, outer rectrices barred black and white
  • Whitish breast with bronze-green bars and variably washed rufous

Juveniles have barred rufous and greenish bronze upperparts, a bright rufous crown, rufous and green (or rufous and brown) wings, a barred brown and rufous tail and white brown-barred underparts.


Found from northeast India and Bangladesh east to Burma, Thailand and southcentral China (Yunnan) and south to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia to peninsular Malaysia, including Singapore. Also on Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines.
Threatened due habitat loss.



There are 2 subspecies[1]:

It's sometimes placed in the genus Chalcites.


Olive-backed Sunbird feeding juvenile Violet Cuckoo
Photo © by Karim Madoya
Inanam, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, July 2007

Moist lowland forests and mangrove forests. Also in orchards, gardens and rubber plantations.
Occurs from lowlands up to 1500m, but mainly below 700m.



Feeds on insects, takes also fruit.
Forages by creeping up and down branches, also flycatches. Perches often motionless.


A brood parasite. Known hosts are mainly sunbirds and spiderhunters.


Southern populations are resident, northern populations (e.g. in Assam and Bangladesh) appear to be migratory.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1997. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334221

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